Friday, July 31, 2009

You can take the controller out of my hands when you pry my cold dead thumbs off the sticks!

By Fartknocckker
Sythbane Squadron contributor

Have you ever seen or heard about something that is so new, so cool, so fresh and exciting that it blinds you to the fact that it’s ... well ... not?

I'm speaking of the motion sensing technology that began with Nintendo and is being copied and improved by Microsoft and Sony for applications in console gaming.

Don’t get me wrong; the demos these companies put on at E3 were an impressive feat of technology. Sony had the most accurate tracking and quickest response, matching players’ movement 1 to 1.

This is not about bad technology. When I said this began with Nintendo, I was referring to the U-Force. That was bad technology even for its time. The Wii, which was the catalyst for the current motion-tracking trend, is good technology. My concern is the extent to which these companies push the technology on players.

Nintendo capitalized on casual gamers, made millions and once again secured their spot as top dog among the big three. For this reason, I understand why Microsoft and Sony want in on the action. However, they should take heed and remember that casual gamers are a small percentage of the nearly $21 billion industry. Nintendo already has most casual gamers in their pocket. The core gamers who built Sony's and Microsoft's empires will not embrace this new way to play. It will be treated as a novelty.

From Pac-Man to Call of Duty, core gamers take pride in their skill on the sticks. A physical, tactile controller in which short, quick movements are made by the thumbs and fingers is far superior, when it comes to control, to flailing arms, turning hips and basically jumping around like an idiot. No, I am not calling you an idiot. People who like motion tracking games -- casual gamers -- just have a different definition of fun than core gamers.

Do I think, for example, that Natal should be nurtured and encouraged? Absolutely. Innovation breeds competition. Competition equals better products. Do I think research and development dollars should be diverted from great games to accommodate this trend? Companies should not jump on the bandwagon in the guise of innovation.

In the end, the market will ultimately decide which technologies will dominate. But give me a controller with a couple of sticks, triggers and buttons any day of the week. As we say in the South: If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.

Below, Big Daddy Ogre, Fartknocckker and Dmanitman dare defend their Constitutional right to keep and bear controllers.

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